Nature's Zeitgeist

Community Arts Advocates, Inc.
39 Robeson Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Stephen Baird, Founder and President

Email:  info@CommunityArtsAdvocates.org

Web site: www.CommunityArtsAdvocates.org

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Emerald Necklace's

WOOD DUCK

Pato de charreteras 

by Stephen Baird

Wood Ducks on Jamaica Pond

Wood Duck - Aix sponsa

“waterbird in bridal dress”

  • Update Spring 2023: Wood Ducks continue to breed in the Emerald Necklace parks after the Wood Duck nesting boxes were installed in 2014, Two broods were spotted on Jamaica Pond in 2023. During the past seven years Wood Ducks have nested on the Muddy River, Leverett Pond and Jamaica Pond. Large flocks feeding on the the bounty of acorns have been seen each fall. I spotted over 100 on Leverett Pond in the fall of 2019. An Asian Wood Duck species akathe Mandarin Duck even joined them! :-)
Wood Duck Brood on Jamaica Pond
  • Update April 2016: Wood Ducks are nesting in the Leverett Pond nesting box! Yeh!
  • Common in Emerald Necklace Parks’ rivers, streams and ponds during migration periods.  Secretive and stays close to shores with overhanging vegetation.
  • Male song is thin rising whistle.  The female has a loud pitch “ooo-eek.”
  • Adult birds grow to 18 inches to 22 inches in size with a 2-foot wingspan and weigh 1-2 pounds. The male is larger than the female.
  • Life span is 5-15 years in the wild.
  • Conduct courtship during December and January by feather displays and mutual preening. Most migrate as pairs. Pairs stay together for one year. Nests in tree cavities in or near water.
  • Usually lay 8-14 ivory white eggs. Incubation by female lasts around 30 days. Some females will lay eggs in another’s nest in crowded areas. Eggs hatch March-May.  Often raise a second brood in warmer climates.
  • Ducklings leave nest one day after hatching.  They forage on their own. Female will provide some protection.  Male does not participate in parental activities. Between 85-90 percent of chicks die during the first two weeks.
  • Wood Ducks forage and eat seeds, berries, grains, nuts, aquatic plants and insects such as ants, bees, dragonflies, and butterflies.
  • Wood Duck feathers are used in fishing lures.
  • Wood Ducks were almost hunted to extinction by the 1890s.  The regulation of duck hunting, the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918 plus the nesting box program and habitat conservation started in 1930s has enabled the Wood Duck population to recover.
  • “Summer Duck,” “Tree Duck,” “Carolina Duck,” “Squealer,” “U-Tut-Ne,” and “Aix sponsa”  are other names for Wood Duck given for its song, habitat, range, plus Native American Yahi and Latin names.  The last translates to “waterbird in bridal dress.”

Female Wood Duck on Jamaica Pond

Links and Resources:

Cornell University's Ornithology Department on line field guide page on Wood Ducks with sample song clip HERE

University of Michigan web page on Wood Ducks HERE

USGS bird indentification and breeding atlas Wood Duck web page: HERE ( Gough, G.A., Sauer, J.R., Iliff, M. Patuxent Bird Identification Infocenter. 1998. Version 97.1. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD)


Wood Duck nesting houses installed on Leverett and Wards Ponds in Olmsted Park in collaboration between Friends of Olmsted Park-Friends of Jamaica Pond, Friends of Leverett Pond and the Boston Nature Center

UPDATE:  April 2016.  Wood Ducks are nesting in the Leverett Pond nesting box!

National Park Service Wood Duck nesting box design and information HERE

Missouri Department of Conservation Wood duck nesting box design and information HERE

John Audubon's Birds of America 1840 "Summer or Wood Duck" read his natural history details HERE

Life Histories of Familiar North American Birds by Arthur Cleveland Bent 1968 - Wood Duck - Original Source: Bent, Arthur Cleveland. 1923. Smithsonian Institution United States National Museum Bulletin 126 (Part I) : 158-171. United States Government Printing Office HERE

Native American Stories: Their fine Feathers - How the Ducks Got Their Colorful Feathers -HERE

Male Wood Duck on Jamaica Pond

Contact and Email Information

Community Arts Advocates, Inc.
39 Robeson Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Stephen Baird, Founder and President

Email:  info@CommunityArtsAdvocates.org

Web site: www.CommunityArtsAdvocates.org

Community Arts Advocates

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